Javier Vazquez Rumors
The Nationals and manager Davey Johnson continue to work toward a new contract for 2013, and based on the most recent reports it sounds as though the sides have a good chance of reaching a deal. Here's more from the NL East...
- The Mets aren't close to completing extensions with David Wright and R.A. Dickey, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. The Mets remain hopeful that they can complete long-term deals with the players instead of trading them away.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com explains why Angel Pagan and Torii Hunter could be solutions for the Phillies this offseason. Zolecki doubts that Michael Bourn will return to Philadelphia this offseason and points out that B.J. Upton's far from a perfect player.
- Former Braves and Marlins starter Javier Vazquez will pitch in the upcoming World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico and see if he wants to make a comeback, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter). The right-hander didn’t pitch in 2012, but pitched quite well for the Marlins in 2011, posting a 3.69 ERA in 192 2/3 innings.
Happy Memorial Day! Here are today’s links...
- It doesn't sound as though Javier Vazquez has baseball at the forefront of his mind. When asked what he's up to, friends of the pitcher told Peter Gammons of MLB.com (via Twitter) that he's playing semi-pro tennis. In April, the right-hander said that he's not planning on playing but also wasn't ready to announce his retirement.
- MLB announced an eight-week suspension for Juan Carlos Oviedo, the right-handed pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez, for engaging in age and identity fraud (Twitter link). Oviedo is making his way back to the Marlins after a prolonged absence.
- Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders if Manny Acosta's days with the Mets could be numbered (Twitter link). Acosta has an 11.86 ERA after allowing three runs to the Phillies this afternoon.
- The Diamondbacks were willing to pay up to keep Miguel Montero’s two-way play on the roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. While Montero isn’t hitting much so far this year, he has thrown out 39.2% of potential base stealers since the beginning of the 2011 season. He recently signed a five-year, $60MM contract with Arizona.
We saw not one, but two historic contract extensions handed out today. Here's the latest from around the league...
- "I did not seriously think so. The truth is, I don't have to," said Matt Cain to John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle when asked if he had thought about pitching for the rival Dodgers (Twitter link). The Giants and Cain agreed to a five-year, $112.5MM contract extension today.
- Earlier today we heard from Zack Greinke, and tonight WEEI.com's Rob Bradford wrote about what Cain's deal could mean for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Lester can become a free agent after 2014, assuming his option is picked up.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden says not to be surprised if the Giants lock up Madison Bumgarner and not Tim Lincecum at some point during the next two seasons following the Cain deal.
- Joey Votto's ten-year, $225MM extension is "going to have lasting repercussions on the sport," says Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. Meanwhile, ESPN's Keith Law says it's "an extension [the Reds] almost certainly will regret before it reaches its halfway point."
- “I’m reserving the right to use that word retire, I guess.” said Javier Vazquez to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. “I’m not planning on playing, but I don’t want to retire, because I don’t want to say I’m retired and then come back. I want to make sure. Right now, I’m not planning on coming back or anything.”
Links in Spanish about three jugadores who don't know where they'll be a year from now...
- Javier Vazquez received calls from two general managers this offseason, and his agent received calls from others, the pitcher told Esteban Pagán Rivera at the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora. Vazquez says he was frank with his suitors, saying, "I haven't felt the slightest itch to play. But I haven't announced my retirement because who knows if, three months or a year from now, I get the urge to play again."
- Wandy Rodriguez is approaching this offseason's trade rumors as if he were a soldier and the Astros were his army, the 33-year-old lefty told Juan Mercado from the Dominican daily El Día. "Wherever they send me, that's where I'll go, since I don't have any city in particular (in mind)," Rodriguez said. The Astros originally signed Rodriguez as an international free agent in 1999, and he says he appreciates the team that "opened the doors" for him to make it to the majors. "Now, if they decide to trade me, the only thing to do is accept it and leave."
- Slugging Yankee prospect Jorge Vazquez is growing impatient with the minor leagues and would like to try Japan or Korea if there's not a place for him in the major leagues, according to the president of the Mexican League's Tigres de Quintana Roo, where Vazquez played in 2007 and 2008. "If they don't give him an opportunity this year, he wants them to trade him, or to go to [play] baseball in the east," Cuauhtémoc "Chito" Rodríguez told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Béisbol. "He doesn't want to continue on in Triple A anymore, not just with the Yankees, but with any other organization as well." Vazquez made a case for being MLB-ready in 2011, putting up a .262/.314/.516 line with 32 homers at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota. The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.
Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future. Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012. Here's more from Cafardo..
- There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field. The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.
- Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder. Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
- Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play. An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
- Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez. Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
- Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
- A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past. However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
- Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
- Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback. The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected. Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
- Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter. The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
- Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.
We're still over a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting, but 47 of the players on Tim Dierkes' list of the top 50 free agents have already found homes for 2012. Only three (very notable) names remain, so let's check in to see how close each player is to finding his next team...
- Johnny Damon. The veteran is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of $5MM per year, but with several other DH types (Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui, etc.) on the market, Damon may have to lower his price in order to stand out amidst the crowd. The Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Rays, Orioles, and Athletics have all been linked to Damon at one point or another this winter, though most of those teams have already filled their designated hitter/bench needs. The Mets and other NL teams are unlikely options since Damon wouldn't be able to DH. My guess is that Damon will end up back with the Yankees on a $2MM contract, splitting DH duties with Andruw Jones and going for another World Series ring in the Bronx.
- Roy Oswalt. The Cardinals and Red Sox both made Oswalt offers in the area of one year/$5MM, but Oswalt is looking for $10MM in 2012. St. Louis is reportedly trying to deal Kyle McClellan to create payroll space for Oswalt but if Boston were to balk at the price, Oswalt may lose his leverage with the Cards. Oswalt prefers to pitch for a team close to his Mississippi home, which is why he has turned down the Blue Jays, Indians and Tigers. Oswalt's problem is that his two preferred choices (the Cardinals and Rangers) don't have a pressing need for starting pitching. The Rangers showed interest and team officials met with Oswalt earlier this week, but we heard earlier tonight that a deal was unlikely since Texas wants to use Matt Harrison as a starter and Oswalt doesn't want to pitch out of the bullpen. My prediction is that Oswalt will end up with the Cardinals, though for less than a $10MM salary.
- Javier Vazquez. Vazquez has said for months that he was likely to retire this offseason and said he'd have a final decision by December. While his deadline has come and gone with no official word, the right-hander is still expected to hang up his cleats after 14 years in the majors. The Marlins have added Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and Wade LeBlanc this offseason so they've clearly moved on even if Vazquez did wish to return. Since Vazquez has expressed a preference to pitch on the east coast to be closer to his family in Puerto Rico, it limits his potential choices. The Red Sox, Orioles, and Mets have available spots in their rotations but the latter two aren't contenders and given how Vazquez struggled as a Yankee, he might not want to return to the AL East. It's probably safe to presume that Vazquez will retire as planned.
Links for Thursday night, starting with a pair of notes on the offseason's top remaining free agent...
- The Nationals appear to be a leading suitor for Prince Fielder, but first baseman Adam LaRoche told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he won’t hold grudges if he’s not a part of Washington’s plans for 2012. “Hopefully, I'll be a part of it. If not, that's life," he said.
- If the Mariners are serious about making Fielder a competitive offer without hamstringing the organization, they could propose a backloaded seven-year, $155MM deal that includes an opt-out after three years, Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner explains.
- ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick suggests the Marlins are convinced Javier Vazquez is retiring (Twitter link). Miami rounded out its rotation today, obtaining the unpredictable Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad.
- Angels infielder Mark Trumbo says the stress fracture in his right foot is taking longer than expected to heal and that his rehabilitation will likely extend to late February, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times.
- The Braves’ interest in Rockies outfielder Seth Smith has cooled, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Rays, who had interest in Smith earlier in the offseason, are not in the hunt any longer, Renck writes.
- The Rockies aren’t actively pursuing Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens, though they continue to monitor the market for starting pitching, according to Renck.
- The Mets continue to look for a shortstop to back up Ruben Tejada, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. They brought Omar Quintanilla in on a minor league deal this week, but the move doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need for shortstop depth. Jack Wilson and Ryan Theriot have been linked to the Mets this offseason.
Twelve years ago today, the Mets traded Octavio Dotel, Roger Cedeno, and Kyle Kessel to the Astros for Mike Hampton and Derek Bell. Hampton pitched to a 3.14 ERA in 217 2/3 innings during his one season in New York, then signed his monster eight-year, $121MM contract with the Rockies that winter. Here's the latest from continually improving the NL East...
- The Marlins were willing to part with top minor leaguers to acquire Gio Gonzalez, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says they weren't willing to move anyone from their everyday lineup. Both Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are considered "off limits."
- Within the same piece, Frisaro says that Javier Vazquez continues to maintain that he is retiring. The Marlins do not expect him back and are looking elsewhere for pitching.
- In a comment on one of his blog posts, Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains why the Braves have less money to spend this winter than many believe.
- Baseball people keep waiting for Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to "bail out" Scott Boras on one of his free agents according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Unsigned Boras clients include Prince Fielder, Edwin Jackson, Johnny Damon, Carlos Pena, and Ryan Madson.
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider takes a look at the far-reaching implications of yesterday's Gonzalez trade for the Nationals.
- Amanda Comack of The Washington Times tries to sort out the Nationals pitching staff following the Gio trade.
The Winter Meetings are here, and that means 24/7 coverage is here at MLBTR as well. I'll be doing overnight shifts throughout the duration of the Winter Meetings, so feel free to stay up late for your fix of Hot Stove news. Here's some overnight quick hits:
- ESPN's Buster Olney is of the opinion that the Mets should be entertaining offers for David Wright, since he won't be part of the organization by the time they turn things around (Twitter link).
- Astros manager Brad Mills is excited to see what some of the non-roster invitees they've signed will bring to Spring Training, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.
- The Cardinals are somewhat comfortable with Tyler Greene as their starting shortstop in 2012, but are also aware of the long list of free agent options writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. New manager Mike Matheny had plenty of praise for Greene who, despite poor offensive output in the Majors, owns an .857 career OPS in 1,204 Triple-A plate appearances.
- The Denver Post's Troy Renck expects the Rockies to trade both Ian Stewart and Huston Street this offseason (Twitter link).
- Juan C. Rodrgiuez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel tweets that he thinks Javier Vazquez is "done." Vazquez has been rumored to be leaning toward retirement for months now.
- The Marlins are "being silly" if they prioritize Albert Pujols over starting pitching at this point, in the opinion of Scott Miller from CBS Sports. Miller feels they already have a dynamic lineup, but with Josh Johnson's frailty and some underwhelming results from the rest of their rotation in 2011, the rotation needs to be the priority.
Jonathan Papelbon became the first major free agent to change teams yesterday, agreeing to a four-year contract worth $50MM with the Phillies. Reactions to the contract were generally mixed, though almost everyone agreed that the size of the deal was staggering. Let's round up the latest from the relief pitcher market...
- Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune reports that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has had preliminary talks with Kerry Wood, who is expected to return next season. The 34-year-old righty pitched to a 3.35 ERA in 51 IP after returning to Chicago's north side on a below-market one-year, $1.5MM contract last winter.
- Despite reports of a four-year, $44MM offer, MASN's Jen Royle hears from a source that the Phillies only offered Ryan Madson a three-year contract. They were unwilling to give him the extra year he wanted (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not willing to give Papelbon a guaranteed fourth year according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- MLB.com's Peter Gammons reports (on Twitter) that the Red Sox offered Papelbon to the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez two offseasons ago. Atlanta rejected the offer, then traded Vazquez to the Yankees shortly thereafter.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wrote about how the rest of the closers' market is shaping up and the impact of Papelbon's contract. Here is our look at the trade and free agent markets for right-handed relievers.